Since I first got more seriously into yoga at the beginning of my college experience, I’ve been looking for a high quality yoga mat that is not only sustainable, but also prevents the problem I often face of slipping around during my practice during poses such as plank. That’s why I’ve been looking at Scoria, a small business founded in 2017 that specializes in yoga products made from cork. I was happy to know that their products are, “mostly natural products that are safe for earth through being either biodegradable, recycled or with a focus on minimalism in the use of energy and waste.” However, after doing a little bit more research into their production process, while their materials seem sustainable, their lack of transparency and outsourcing of their labor makes it so I can only give them one Earth out of three.
The yoga mats are primarily made from cork and rubber. According to their website, what sets Scoria apart from other more traditional and commercially-sold yoga mats is that they are backed by natural tree rubber. The cork is sustainably harvested in Vietnam. The “sustainable” aspect of the harvesting was explained in more detail on their website, which I appreciated: “The cork is stripped from the tree after maturation (around 26 years), and is stripped again after every 9-12 years. The stripping of the cork is a sustainable process that allows cork to regenerate on the tree and unlike the myth of cork being endangered, it actually helps the process of producing more cork for the trees.” While I really appreciate their commitment to sustainable harvesting practices, it does feel a little bit performative compared to the pretty blatant lack of transparency that exists in their manufacturing process. Finally, their products are packaged in fully recyclable, plastic-free packaging.
Scoria’s products are made from sustainably harvested cork. The cork is bonded by water-based eco adhesives, such as dextrins, protein glues, starch glues, and natural rubber latex glues, which I didn’t know too much about and had to research further. Compared to glues used on yoga mats often found in department stores or those sold cheaply online, which include petrochemicals, cyanoacrylate polymers, polyurethane, and epoxy, apparently these glues are eco-friendly, non-toxic, and easily recyclable. They did not state this on their website so I did not use this in factoring their score, however natural corks are able to be composted. Since I wasn’t sure how the glue impacts this, I did not include it.
Scoria is a Canadian company, however the yoga mats are assembled and manufactured in China. I was a nervous to hear that they were outsourcing their labor, and on the website it said that their partners in China were SGS certified. SGS stands for Standard Global Services and according to their website is, “the world’s leading testing, inspection and certification company.” While I’m happy to see that they at least have this certification, their website lacks greater insight into the production process and more importantly the treatment of their employees working in their offshore factories.
Scoria donates a portion of their proceeds every year to a different cause. This year, they have committed their proceeds to, “support life-skills and healthy living education for Indigenous youth in Canada all while using play-based education tools in partnership with Right To Play."